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28.12.

2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/145

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(30 March 2000)

The Decree of 4 February 2000 cited by the Honourable Member was received by the Commission only
recently.

The text of the Decree is currently being translated and scrutinised by the relevant department.

As soon as this review is finished, the Commission will be in a position to answer the Honourable
Member’s questions.

(2000/C 374 E/171) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0740/00
by Karla Peijs (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(6 March 2000)

Subject: De Zaak Havana Club/WTO, Bacardi-Martini versus Pernod Ricard

1. Can the Commission explain why it is pushing so much for a WTO Panel procedure in the Article
133 Committee concerning the legitimacy of Section 211(b) of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998
under the TRIPS Agreement, when several Member States have raised their doubts as to the need for such
a Panel procedure?

2. Is the willingness of the Commission to support a private conflict of a commercial company not
contrary to the new policy of the Commission to avoid blurring of interests in its decision-making process?

3. Can the Commission explain why the dispute between two commercial companies justifies the heavy
judicial procedure of the WTO panel procedure?

4. Does the Commission think that asking for a WTO Panel in this particular matter is a sign of
appropriate timing, bearing in mind the delicate trade relationships with the USA at the moment?

5. Can the Commission confirm that all means for an amicable solution have been exploited in this
particular matter?

Answer given by Mr Lamy on behalf of the Commission

(24 March 2000)

1. Section 211 of the United States Omnibus Appropriations Act 1998 was adopted in October 1998.
After detailed analysis, the Commission came to the conclusion that Section 211 violates certain provisions
of the World Trade Organisation trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (WTO TRIPs)
agreement, notably its national treatment provisions, trademark provisions and enforcement provisions.
This analysis was shared by all Member States.

The Community and its Member States raised the incompatibility of Section 211 with the WTO TRIPs
agreement with the United States on various occasions, including at the past three Community-United
States summits and within the WTO TRIPs Council in order to find an amicable solution to the matter.
However, the American administration constantly refused to engage in any substantive discussion. The
Community and its Member States requested consultations under the WTO dispute settlement under-
standing in July 1999. Two rounds of consultations were held in September and December 1999, but the
United States maintained the view that Section 211 is compatible with the United States international
obligations. Having evaluated the outcome of the WTO consultations and the economic and political
interests involved, the Commission came to the conclusion that it was appropriate to request the
establishment of a WTO panel on this issue in order to ensure the proper application of the WTO TRIPs
agreement by the United States. To this end, the Commission sought, in conformity with the established
rules, the opinion of the Member States.
C 374 E/146 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 28.12.2000

2. and 3. The WTO dispute concerns an American law which, in view of the Community and its
Member States, violates the WTO TRIPs agreement. This law can potentially affect all European companies
dealing with Cuba. It should be in the interest of the Community and its Member States to ensure that the
provisions of the WTO TRIPs agreement are respected by all WTO members. It is normal practice to
examine the incompatibilities of the legislation of a WTO member with WTO rules not only from a legal
point of view, but also from the angle of its economic importance.

On the basis of the information available, Section 211 was, so far, applied once. A European company
challenged its American competitor before American courts about the use of a trademark and trade-name.
Following the recent judgement of the American courts, the European company is now prevented from
defending its rights in the United States. The judgement is mainly based on Section 211. On the other
hand, the American courts did not examine the compatibility of Section 211 with the American
international obligations.

4. and 5. As explained before, the Commission raised this matter on numerous occasions with the
United States in order to find an amicable solution to the dispute. Each dispute settlement case should be
examined and dealt with on its own merits. It should not affect the overall Community-United States
relationship. This case relates to a trade dispute about a particular American law. It appears from the
foregoing that the only means available to the Community and its Member States to ensure the proper
application of the WTO TRIPs agreement by the United States is the request for a WTO panel.

(2000/C 374 E/172) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0742/00
by Marialiese Flemming (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(13 March 2000)

Subject: Waste water disposal in Athens, Brussels and Milan

With regard to the poisoning of the river Danube and its branches in the region of Serbia and Romania at
the present time, it should be pointed out that this situation could only have arisen because of the lack of
waste water purification plants.

In this context, how does the Commission plan to deal with the problem of the lack of waste water
purification plants in Europe?

What action does the Commission intend to take, in addition to this, with regard to the lack of waste
water purification plants within the Union, and what is the situation with regard to waste water disposal in
the cities of Athens, Brussels and Milan?

By what date does the Commission expect the work on the planned or improved waste water purification
plants to be completed?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(27 April 2000)

The issue of waste water treatment is a key factor in relation to public health and the environment. Urgent
action is therefore needed in some major European cities in order to assure a high level of protection.

Waste water treatment plants for urban waste water and waste water from the agro-food industry are
addressed by the 1991 urban waste water treatment directive (Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May
1991, concerning urban waste water treatment (1)). This requires waste water collection and treatment for
all concentrated areas of settlement or economic activity (‘agglomeration’) of more than 2000 inhabitants
or the equivalent in waste water pollution, and sets deadlines for achieving the environmental objective in
stages, depending on the size of the agglomeration and the characteristics of the affected water.